7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Dementia

Learn about the 7 stages of Alzheimer's dementia, from no impairment to end stage. Understand the signs and symptoms of each stage and how to prepare for the future as a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer's

7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Dementia
Photo by Natasha Connell / Unsplash

The 7 stages of Alzheimer’s dementia are also characterized as :

  • Early onset Alzheimer’s or early stage
  • Moderate or mid stage Alzheimer’s
  • Severe or late stage Alzheimer’s.

The sign of Alzheimer’s present differently in different individuals. A person can exhibit different behaviors and physical changes in the different stages.

I think it is easier to identify a person in early, mid or late stage Alzheimer’s. This is easier than worrying about being concerned about trying to be specific. Many try to identify what numbered stage an individual may be presently functioning. The fact is, as a person advances, they may show signs and symptoms of different levels.

The 7 stages of Alzheimer’s dementia for some individuals are just not that clear cut.

Some individuals will progress very slowly. They may show signs of behaviors or physical indications of the next level. These may be intermittent.

Or an individual may experience several good days in a row you are sure that they are improving. It is the cruel nature of this illness. It gives us those glimmers of hope and moments of the seeing the person we once knew and loved.

Still others will have rapid periods of deterioration. They may even skip several of the numbered stages all-together. So, as you read this information, please understand, with this disease, there is nothing cut and dry.

These stages are a reference guide. To prepare you for what may lie ahead for you as you provide care for the aging senior with Alzheimer’s. Use this information as a tool to plan for the future.

For future reference, I will refer to the different stages as:

  • Early onset Alzheimer’s or early stage
  • Mid stage Alzheimer’s
  • End stage Alzheimer’s.

The seven stages of Alzheimer’s dementia is based on a system developed by Barry Reisberg, M.D, Clinical Director of the New York University School of

Medicine’s Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Center. The

7 stages of Alzheimer’s Dementia

Stages of Alzheimer’s Dementia 1

No impairment. A person functions on a normal level.

Individuals experience no memory problems. None are evident to a health care professional during a medical interview.

Stages of Alzheimer’s Dementia 2

Very mild cognitive decline. This may be normal age-related changes.

Or it could be the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease. See how a brain fitness program may be slow the progress of the disease.

Individuals may feel as if they have memory loss and lapses… Forgetting familiar words or names. Some notice they can’t remember the location of keys or eyeglasses.. These problems are not evident during a medical examination. They may not even be apparent to friends, family or co-workers.

Stages of Alzheimer’s dementia 3

This is time to begin putting home safety measures into place.

You may notice mild memory decline. You will notice mild memory decline.

Early-stage Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed in some, individuals with these symptoms

Friends, family or co-workers begin to notice deficiencies. Problems with memory or concentration may be measurable in clinical testing. Or is becomes more discernible during a detailed medical interview.

Common difficulties include:

  • Word- or name-finding problems noticeable to family or close associates
  • Decreased ability to remember names when introduced to new people
  • Performance issues in social or work settings noticeable to family, friends or co-workers
  • Reading a passage and retaining little material
  • Losing or misplacing a valuable object
  • Decline in ability to plan or organize

Stages of Alzheimer’s Dementia 4

Moderate cognitive decline (Mild or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease)

At this stage, an interview by a health care professional will detect clear-cut deficiencies in the following areas:

  • Decreased knowledge of recent occasions or current event
  • Impaired ability to perform challenging mental arithmetic. For example, to count backward from 75 by 7s
  • Decreased capacity to perform complex tasks. These tasks include… planning dinner for guests, paying bills and managing finances
  • Reduced memory of personal history
  • The affected individual may seem withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations
  • May appear depressed

Stages of Alzheimers 5

Moderate to severe cognitive decline (Moderate or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease

Major gaps in memory and deficits in cognitive function emerge.

Some assistance with day-to-day activities becomes essential.

At this stage, individuals may

  • Be unable during a medical interview to recall such important details:
  • Current address,
  • Telephone number
  • Name of the college or high school from which they graduate
  • Become confused about where they are or about the date, day of the week or season
  • Has trouble with less challenging mental arithmetic. For example, counting backward from 40 by 4s or from 20 by 2s
  • Need help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion
  • Usually retains knowledge about themselves .They know their own name and the names of their spouse or children
  • Usually require no assistance with eating or using the toilet

Stages of Alzheimers 6

stages of dementia and symptoms

Severe cognitive decline (Moderately severe or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease)

Memory difficulties continue to worsen. Significant personality changes may emerge. Many affected individuals need extensive help with customary daily activities.

At this stage, individuals may

  • Lose most awareness of recent experiences and events.
  • They are no longer aware of their surroundings
  • Recollect their personal history imperfectly, although they generally recall their own name
  • Occasionally forgets the name of their spouse or primary caregiver
  • can distinguish familiar from unfamiliar faces.
  • Needs help getting dressed properly. Without supervision, may make such errors as putting pajamas on over daytime clothes. Or put shoes on wrong feet
  • Experience disruption of their normal sleep/waking cycle.
  • Needs help with handling toileting (flushing toilet, wiping and disposing of tissue properly) Have increasing episodes of urinary or fecal incontinence
  • Experience significant personality changes.
  • Behavioral symptoms, including suspiciousness and delusions. For example, believing that their caregiver is an impostor);
  • Experience hallucinations. Begins seeing or hearing things that are not there).
  • Starts compulsive or repetitive behaviors such as hand-wringing or tissue shredding
  • Tend to wanderand become lost

Stages of Alzheimer’s dementia 7

Very severe cognitive decline (Severe or late-stage Alzheimer’s disease)

This is the final stage of the disease.

  • Individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment.
  • They lose the ability to speak
  • Ultimately, the ability to control movement.
  • Frequently individuals lose their capacity for recognizable speech. Words or phrases may occasionally be uttered.
  • Individuals need help with eating and toileting. Generally there is incontinence of both bowel and bladder.
  • Individuals lose the ability to walk without assistance.
  • Later, they lose the ability to sit without support, the ability to smile, and the ability to hold their head up.
  • Reflexes become abnormal
  • Muscles grow rigid.
  • Swallowing is impaired

Here are some books that may be helpful for you:

Dementia Behaviors– Dementia care is challenging. Not knowing how to handle challenging behaviors is the toughest challenge.

Diagnosis of Dementia: What do I do now?– Written to help you overcome the initial shock of the diagnosis. To help you get you into a mode where you may move forward with your life.

Herbal Teas There are many medicinal properties to drinking tea. Each ingredient has healing properties.

Understanding the Early Stages of Dementia

Billions of dollars have been invested on a cure for dementia, especially the Alzheimer’s type of dementia.

The professional organizations have done great things to raise money and awareness. This helps fund that research.

Very little has been invested on researching how to take care of someone with dementia.

No investment has been to support those providing care to someone with dementia.

There is presently no cure for dementia on the horizon.

What is Dementia? Understanding Dementia is the First Step to Confident Dementia Care

Dementia is one of the world’s fastest growing diseases.

Of the 4 million individuals newly diagnosed with dementia, 70% live at home. Most are receiving care from family and friends. Dementia is not a normal part of aging.

It is important for the care giver to realize that from the time of diagnosis to death may be as short as a few years. It can also be as long as 20 years.

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